Yesterday TheWrap‘s Jeff Sneider reported that David Permut and Reunion Pictures “have begun developing” a film about the 27-year romance between Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. But is the material really there? Tracy-Hepburn had on-screen chemistry, for sure. And they certainly cared for and seemed to complement each other — no one’s disputing that. Except the alcoholic Tracy never left his wife and Hepburn, while devoted to Tracy, was married only once (at a very young age), never had children and always lived with women when she got older. Tracy and Hepburn were soulmates but I’ve never been convinced that they were lovers. Google around and the general belief is that she was basically gay and he was too guilty or drunk or depressed or cantankerous to be much of a classic-styled lover.
Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn.
Tracy-Hepburn’s relationship was common knowledge within the industry, and of course the public loved them — they made nine films together. But I wonder if they ever actually “did it.” I don’t think Permut or David Rambo, who has written the script, know the answer to that, but I suspect they’re intending to color the relationship as romantically as they can. If so the movie is going to feel ungenuine on some level, or seem a bit of a vague mish-mash. A lasting, deeply felt platonic relationship is not without meaning, of course. But where’s the firewood? Where’s the dramatic conflict? The fact that Tracy-Hepburn kept their relationship private and never went to restaurants or travelled together isn’t enough.